#BookReview- The Saints of Swallow Hill by Donna Everhart #Historical #WomensFic @wordstogobuy


Description via Amazon.com

Where the Crawdads Sing meets The Four Winds as award-winning author Donna Everhart’s latest novel immerses readers in its unique setting–the turpentine camps and pine forests of the American South during the Great Depression–for a captivating story of friendship, survival, and three vagabonds’ intersecting lives.

It takes courage to save yourself…

Few writers evoke the complexities of the heart and the gritty fascination of the American South as vividly as Donna Everhart, whose lyrical new novel, set against the background of the Great Depression, is a powerful story of courage, survival, and friendship…
In the dense pine forests of North Carolina, turpentiners labor, hacking into tree trunks to draw out the sticky sap that gives the Tar Heel State its nickname, and hauling the resin to stills to be refined. Among them is Rae Lynn Cobb and her husband, Warren, who run a small turpentine farm together.

Though the work is hard and often dangerous, Rae Lynn, who spent her childhood in an orphanage, is thankful for it–and for her kind if careless husband. When Warren falls victim to his own negligence, Rae Lynn undertakes a desperate act of mercy. To keep herself from jail, she disguises herself as a man named “Ray” and heads to the only place she can think of that might offer anonymity–a turpentine camp in Georgia named Swallow Hill.

Swallow Hill is no easy haven. The camp is isolated and squalid, and commissary owner Otis Riddle takes out his frustrations on his browbeaten wife, Cornelia. Although Rae Lynn works tirelessly, she becomes a target for Crow, the ever-watchful woods rider who checks each laborer’s tally. Delwood Reese, who’s come to Swallow Hill hoping for his own redemption, offers “Ray” a small measure of protection, and is determined to improve their conditions. As Rae Lynn forges a deeper friendship with both Del and Cornelia, she begins to envision a path out of the camp. But she will have to come to terms with her past, with all its pain and beauty, before she can open herself to a new life and seize the chance to begin again.

Biography

Donna Everhart is the USA Today bestselling author of Southern fiction with authenticity and grit, including the Southeastern Library Association Award-winning The Road to Bittersweet and her most recent novel, The Moonshiner’s Daughter. Her fifth novel, The Saints of Swallow Hill, will be released in February 2022.

Along with her husband and a tiny, heart-stealing Yorkshire terrier named Mister, she lives just an hour from where she was born and raised in Raleigh, North Carolina. Please visit her online at DonnaEverhart.com.

My Review

Set during the 1930’s depression, this is the story of two wandering souls who find redemption in a backbreaking turpentine camp, and learn they are stronger than they think.

Rae Lynn Cobb flees the home she’s known and loved after the horrific death of her husband, and subsequent indecent proposal from a neighbor. Scared and afraid of reprisal, she cuts off her hair and hides as a young man named Ray in a Southern Carolina turpentine camp. The work is hard, the pay negligible, but it’s the harassment from a line boss that finally ruins Ray’s secret.

Delwood Reese faced his comeuppance in the middle of a corn shute, and now he is at Swallow Hill to bury himself in work and forget the past. Del’s curiosity is tweaked by the arrival of a new guy, Ray, who seems too young and inexperienced for the tough camp life. He tries to watch over the kid but his easy-going attitude and affinity for the Blacks he works with brings the ire of a mean line boss and lands him in hot water.

As the hot southern sun heats up the land, tensions rise and it culminates in an explosive scene where secrets are revealed and new paths forged.

This is an engrossing read. At first I wasn’t sure I liked womanizing Del, but he quickly won me over with his kindness and loyalty. Rae Lynn is guilt-ridden over her husband’s unnecessary death and much of the story is on her recovery from the ordeal. She is incredibly brave to take on a man’s job in the turpentine camp with its long hours and tough work, but her inner strength shines under the continual abuse from a cruel man.

A symbolic story of good over evil, this is a recommended read!

“I voluntarily read an ARC of this book which was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.”

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25 Comments

  1. Great review, Jacquie. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s an interesting read, Harmony 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Mae Clair says:

    I’ve been eying this one up for a while, Jacquie, and have been on the fence about it. I appreciate your review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The author did a great job of sticking with the era. I enjoyed this one and will probably try some of her other books.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great review! Thanks for sharing, Jacquie.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Jill. Appreciate you stopping by to check it out 🙂

      Like

  4. Staci Troilo says:

    Sounds like a powerful tale, Jacquie. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know the camps can be rough, but for a woman… dangerous, too.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Jan Sikes says:

    This sounds like an intriguing read, Jacquie. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hadn’t realized how they collected turpentine before- very interesting!

      Like

  6. I do like the sound of this book, Jacquie. A very hard life.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My dad worked in the bush as a faller for many years. It’s a grueling life for little reward.
      It was interesting to learn about the turpentining industry back then.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That is interesting to me, Jacquie. I am writing about a faller…

        Liked by 1 person

        1. It’s a lonely, dangerous occupation. I look forward to reading your story.

          Liked by 1 person

  7. balroop2013 says:

    A compelling review Jacquie, I seem to like this book. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The cover caught my eye- I’m glad it did!

      Like

  8. D.L. Finn, Author says:

    Great review, Jacquie. It sounds like an engrossing read!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Great Depression is a fascinating era. Times were hard and it bred tough people 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Kymber says:

    Wonderful review, Jacquie! I love reading about this time period.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And we think we have it hard! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. The cover intrigued me first, Jacquie. Then the fact that Everhart wrote this. The book sounds great and I enjoyed your review. I still haven’t read Where the Crawdad’s Sing, but know I’ll get to this author’s work before long. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I haven’t had the chance to read Where the Crawdad’s Sing, either, though it sounds amazing!
      I love books that inform along with the storytelling- I’ll never look at turpentine the same way! lol

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh I agree. The details that create a strong sense of place are mesmerizing.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Sounds interesting, Jacquie. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This book sweeps you into another era, Michele. The characters are unforgettable!

      Liked by 1 person

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